Monday, September 13, 2010

Make School the Most Inviting Place in Town

Dr. William Purkey, the founder of Invitational Education, teaches us how to make our school the most inviting place in town. He teaches that there are four ways we interact with others:

  • We are intentionally disinviting
  • We are unintentially disinviting
  • We are unintentially inviting
  • We are intentially inviting

We would obviously not want teachers and other staff members in our schools who are intentially disinviting to students and other stakeholders but much harm can also be caused by being unintentially disinviting. The latter often happens when we don't understand the culture of other people. For instance, in the Hispanic culture it is important to build some rapport before getting to the bottom line---whether that be in written correspondence or face-to-face communication.

It is wonderful to be inviting but when it is unintentional we are unable to identify what is making a difference. We want to reach the point where we choose to do those things that are inviting. In other words, we purposefully extend intential invitations. Dr. Purkey uses the analogy of the starfish with its five arms to demonstrate the five areas of a school where we want to be intentionally inviting: 1) persons, 2) places, 3) processes, 4) programs, and 5) policies.

Dr. Purkey identifies the disinviting things we do as giving out "orange cards" and the inviting things we do as "blue cards." Blue cards carry a message that the person is able, valuable, and responsible encouraging trust, respect, optimism, and intentionality while orange cards carry exactly the opposite message. Each person requires at least 12 blue cards for every orange card just to "make it through the night." The strength of orange cards is demonstrated by this ratio. Therefore, it is critical that we be intentially inviting by giving out as many blue cards as we possibly can to our students and other school stakeholders on a daily basis.

The following are some books by Dr. Purkey that every school will want to have in its professional library:

  • Becoming an Invitational Leader
  • The Inviting School Treasury
  • From Conflict to Conciliation
  • Inviting School Success
  • Fundamentals of Invitational Education
  • Inviting Positive Classroom Discipline

To learn more about Invitational Education, including how to become a member, visit the wesite:

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